Tuesday, September 11, 2007
A symbolic gesture of a new way forward
Part of the conservative movement is in the process of canonizing Ronald Reagan. Efforts are being made to name something for Reagan in each of the 435 congressional districts, and some want to put his face on some money, either taking FDR's place on the dime or Andrew Jackson's place on the $20 bill. Here is my counteroffer. Take Andrew Jackson off the twenty and replace him with James Madison, the author of the Constitution.
Thinking of Jackson as the father of the modern Democratic Party is as strange an idea as Lincoln being the father of the modern Republican Party. His positive qualities are that he was a man of the people, the first "outsider" who became president, and the instigator of the patronage system, meaning your cronies, friends and hangers-on could get jobs in the gummint once you won the election. In this way, Jackson is the great-grandfather of Michael "Heckuva Job Brownie" Brown. This is not exactly something we should hold up with pride these days.
Among the negatives of Jackson are that he was the only president to be censured by Congress, this over his opposition to the Second Bank Of The United States. This appears to be a "my sleazeballs vs. your sleazeballs" battle when we look back on it today. More to the point that the Democrats need a new father figure is Jackson's ignoring of the Constitution's definitions of powers and his complicity in mass murder.
Gold was found on the original Cherokee homeland in western Georgia, and white folks did all that they could to swindle the Cherokee out of their assets. The Cherokee, different from nearly all other Native American tribes, fought back like white men would; they took the case to court. They won the case, and it was upheld all the way to the Supreme Court. Jackson ignored the Supreme Court. (Jackson had it in for nearly all the Founding Fathers from Virginia, including Madison and Jefferson, so his disrespect for the Constitution could be seen as personal disrespect for Madison.) It is claimed that he said "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!" Whether he spoke the words or not is immaterial, because his actions spoke louder in the end.
He signed a bullshit treaty with a splinter group of Cherokees and the Cherokee, who had played by the rules and won, were sent from their land in Georgia to new and less valuable land in Oklahoma. 15,000 Cherokee signed a petition protesting the decision of the fake leaders. The petition was ignored. Some 7,000 U.S. troops were sent to remove the Cherokee by force. Of the 17,000 Cherokee who left Georgia, some 4,000 died before they got to Oklahoma. This episode is known as The Trail Of Tears. It wouldn't be fair to compare this to the Nazi death camps of World War II. It's much more like the Bataan Death March organized by the Japanese.
If you need further proof that Jackson isn't the guy for us in the 21st Century, it should be noted that he was on the $1,000 bill of the Confederacy. (It should also be noted that he died in 1845, some fifteen years before the Civil War started, so what he would have thought of the dissolution of the Union is unknown.)
Another strike against him is that Charlton Heston once said Jackson was the greatest man he ever portrayed, choosing Old Hickory over some Jewish guy named Moses. This is further proof that even before he was old and senile, Charlton Heston had his head stuck up his ass.
We need a new Democratic Party in this country. We need to acknowledge the mistakes of the past, but also to raise up great traditions of our nation's founding. We should start with the Constitution, a document we need to fight for each and every day. Scumbags in an organization called The Federalist Society are working hard to tell us the Constitution's guarantees to us as free people don't really exist at all. Alberto Gonzales' very weak argument that we don't really have the right of habeas corpus, just that the government doesn't have the right to take it away from us, is the kind of bullshit sophistry these people hang their hats on.
I know that a lot of people will take this day to commemorate what happened six years ago. It's my position that it's time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and to commit ourselves to protecting our true freedoms from enemies, both foreign and right now, most especially domestic.